How Addicted Parents Affect Their Children
Children of addicted parents are negatively affected by their parent’s
substance use issues in a number of ways. Some of the concerning ways
that children are negatively affected by the substance addictions of their
parents are described below.
Exposes Them to Violence
Children of addicted parents often receive exposure to domestic violence.
This is due to their parents acting reckless and getting into physical
altercations while under the influence. Exposure to such violence can
be very traumatizing for young children.
Expose Them to Overdoses
Many other children of addicted parents witness their mother or father
overdose on drugs. This can be traumatizing for children of any age.
Provide Them With Little to No Parental Support or Guidance
Parents with substance addictions spend all of their time abusing drugs
or trying to get more drugs to abuse. Thus, they often neglect to take
care of their children or give them parental support. Such negligent parenting
often forces the children of addicted parents to take on parental responsibilities.
Such neglect also often causes children of addicted parents to struggle
socially, in school, and professionally. Many children of addicted parents
are even forced to live in poverty. This is due to their addicted parents
spending all their money on substances.
Cause Them to Experience Self-Esteem Issues
Many children of addicted parents become embarrassed about their home lives
and the fact that they don’t have model parents. This is especially
the case if their parents’ substance addictions have forced them
to live in poverty or take on parental responsibilities. As a result,
many children of addicted parents experience severe self-esteem issues.
Children May Witness Their Parent’s Arrest
Some parents with addictions get arrested for their use of illegal substances.
Unfortunately, this often causes children of addicted parents to have
to experience their mothers or fathers being incarcerated. Having parents
get arrested is traumatizing for children. Having parents in jail not
only makes life harder on children, but it’s also very traumatizing.
Cause Their Children to Fear Losing Their Parents
Many parents with addictions use illegal substances and neglect their parental
duties. Thus, their children may fear that their parents may get arrested
one day. This is not an unreasonable fear as many parents with substance
addictions end up incarcerated at some point in life. Some children of
addicted parents may even fear that child protective services may take
them away from their parents.
Force Their Children to Experience Mistreatment and Abuse
While under the influence, parents with substance addictions may act out
in reckless ways that they normally wouldn’t. For example, some
parents with substance addictions mistreat or abuse their children physically
Force Their Children Into a Role Reversal
Something horrible that children of addicted parents often experience is
a forced role reversal. By this, we mean that children of addicted parents
must take on parental responsibilities at an early age. This may include
having to be responsible for everything from finances to providing shelter
and parental support for their siblings. In fact, many children of addicted
parents are forced to take care of their mothers or fathers. This often
ages children of addicted parents prematurely.
Force Their Children Into Experiencing Unhealthy Parent-Child Emotional
Many children of addicted parents are forced to support their mothers and
fathers. As a result, they are often forced to engage in unhealthy and
inappropriate emotional engagement with their parents. For example, children
of addicted parents may be forced to listen to their mothers or fathers
talk about inappropriate sexual experiences in front of them while they
are drunk or high.
Children of addicted parents may also be forced to sleep in the same beds
as their mothers and fathers. This is due to their parents experiencing
withdrawal and/or addiction symptoms such as
feeling depressed or
anxious. Children of addicted parents may even be forced to drop everything in
their lives to constantly babysit their parents or rescue their parents
from harmful situations.
Coping as Children of Addicted Parents
Many children of addicted parents blame themselves for their parents’
substance use issues. For example, many children think to themselves that
if they were better, their parents wouldn’t abuse drugs. This is
a wrong and unhealthy thought, though.
To maintain good mental health, children of addicted parents should think
positively and remind themselves of the following things:
1. Addiction Is a Disease
All children of addicted parents should remember that addiction is a disease.
If children of addicted parents frequently remind themselves of this,
they’ll recognize that there is nothing that they could’ve
done to change their parents’ actions.
Remember, parents don’t abuse substances because they don’t
love their children. They abuse substances because they are suffering
from the disease of addiction.
2. You Are Not Alone
There are many children of addicted parents in the U.S. and the world.
To help you manage your mental health as a child of an addicted parent,
it’s good to remind yourself that you are not alone. Many support
groups exist to help people overcome the secondhand effects of addiction.
3. It’s Alright to Talk About It
You can confide in trustworthy adults about your situation if things become
too difficult for you. Oftentimes, children of addicted parents feel that
they must keep their parents’ substance addictions a secret out
of fear that speaking about it will cause them to lose their parents.
With this thinking though, things at home will likely only get worse. Thus,
if you know an adult that you trust, remind yourself that it’s alright
to confide in him or her and reach out for help.
The Seven Cs
Children should always be able to focus on just being kids and having fun.
Unfortunately, children of addicted parents often lose their innocence
and ability to just be kids. To help children of addicts be able to retain
some of their childhood innocence, they should remember the seven Cs below
as it pertains to their parents’ addictions.
- I didn’t Cause it.
- I can’t Cure it.
- I can’t Control it.
- I can Care for myself.
- I should Communicate my feelings.
- I should make healthy Choices.
- I should Celebrate myself.
How to Stage an Intervention for Your Parent
Talking to a parent about substance abuse can be difficult for children.
This is because it’s usually not a child’s responsibility
to hold a parent accountable for his or her wrongdoings. The best way
for children to talk to their parents about substance abuse and convince
them to attend rehab is to stage an intervention.
To stage a proper intervention, children of addicted parents should first
write down talking points. Children of addicted parents should then contact
professional interventionists that can help them stage proper interventions.
Interventions shouldn’t be done by just one person. To convince a
parent to attend rehab, individuals should invite the parent’s other
close relatives and friends to come to the intervention and talk about
their concerns as well.
Just make sure to arrange a time for the intervention when everyone is
available. Also, make sure to conduct the intervention at a time when
the parent isn’t drunk or high.
What to Do During the Intervention
During the intervention, children of addicted parents should calmly and
directly state their talking points. Any close relative or family friends
that are a part of the intervention should do the same.
Hopefully, by staging an intervention, your parent will realize the severity
of his or her substance use. Parents that receive interventions for drug
addictions should also hopefully recognize that they need help.
Once you get your parent to recognize that he or she needs help overcoming
substance addiction, you should give your parent information on rehab
facilities nearby that he or she can receive treatment at. After doing
that, all that’s left to do is make sure that your parent follows
through with attending rehab.
Parents With Substance Addictions Should Attend Rehab At Grace Land Recovery
Grace Land Recovery is a
dual diagnosis treatment center located near Memphis, Tennessee that treats addictions and their
co-occurring mental illnesses. Here at Grace Land Recovery, we recognize
that anyone can develop any type of substance addiction, including parents.
That’s why we offer a variety of addiction and dual diagnosis treatment
programs that we specialize by substance and individualize by patient.
Here at Grace Land Recovery, we also make sure to offer a wide variety of
addiction therapies and clinical services. Individuals that live in Tennessee and are looking
for a quality rehab facility to suggest to their parents should look into
Grace Land Recovery.
To learn more about Grace Land Recovery and the wide variety of addiction
treatment programs, therapies, and services that we offer,
contact us today! Our phone lines are open 24/7 and our treatment center’s office
hours are Monday-Friday from 9 am-5 pm.